Cardenas Wins SportBike Thriller at Road America
NEWS June 7, 2009
After running second for most of the race, Cardenas had an epic final-lap battle with Jake Zemke on the No. 1X Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR. Over the final four miles of the race, Cardenas took the lead from Zemke in Turn 1, but Zemke returned the favor in Turn 5. Cardenas reclaimed the lead from Zemke five turns later, but Zemke got inside position heading into the left-hand Turn 12, which is famously known as "Canada Corner," and appeared to be headed for Victory Lane.
However, Cardenas had one last burst on the long, uphill front straightaway and won the drag race to the stripe to win by 0.104 seconds. It was the eighth podium in 10 races for Cardenas, who now leads the Daytona SportBike championship standings by 51 points, 255-204, over No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R rider Jamie Hacking, who finished ninth. Eleven of 20 races are now in the books.
"The first plan that I had was to pass him," Cardenas said. "I tried to make a very good lap and tried to win, but under braking into Turn 5, Jake came by again. I tried to pass him again on the chicane, and he went past me on the next turn. We went side-by-side for the last half of the racetrack and it went down to the last corner. He was protecting the inside and, on that particular lap, I made a good run out of that turn and it worked out and I could win. Especially today, my bike was very fast and it helped me a lot today to win the race. Thank you to M4 Suzuki and all the team."
Zemke took the lead on Lap 7 and led a total of six laps, coming up just short in his bid for a breakthrough Daytona SportBike victory. Nevertheless, it was the Californian's first podium finish of the season. His previous best ride was a fourth-place performance in the first race of the April doubleheader at Road Atlanta.
"I was trying to be anywhere that Martin wasn't," Zemke said. "We were pretty much side-by-side through all those final corners. We were basically side-by-side since out of the chicane (Turn 11). He had a little slip there with the rear and we went side-by-side all the way to Canada Corner. I had the inside there, and then he crossed back over and was outside of me as we went into where the bridge used to be (Turn 13). I knew he was kind of sitting there and I knew I had to protect the inside on the last corner. Leading the race, you just can't go in there and leave the door wide open for somebody. Being where I was, I just had to protect the inside. Martin is real strong on the brakes, so I knew if I left that open, he'd definitely go up the inside of me. I just had to do what I had to do, and today it didn't work out for us.
"Congratulations to Martin, he rode great, and also Jason (DiSalvo). These guys have been the class of the field this year, and they're the ones we've got to set our sights on. We're going to come out to the next race at Laguna and see if we can't hunt Martin down."
Rounding out the podium was Jason DiSalvo, who started from the pole position on the No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600. DiSalvo never led, but kept the lead battle in sight throughout the race to take his fifth podium result of the season.
"I was just really happy to make it out and get back on the box," DiSalvo said. "After yesterday's performance in the rain, it was just good to get back out. I wish I could have fought for the win, but we lost a little bit of power in the bike from about Lap 3 on, and I just really couldn't hang in the draft and couldn't get off some of the slower corners. I just had to sit back and watch those guys inch away from me. It was pretty tough to do, but we just stuck it out and brought it home a very comfortable third. We just want to go out and get that win. We've been waiting a long time for it."
Yesterday's race winner, Chris Peris, finished fourth in the second race of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader on the No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR. Danny Eslick rounded out the top five on the No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R.
Next up for Daytona SportBike is the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, July 5.
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